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How I Learned to Stop Worrying

12 april 07:14, 2006

Gisteravond bracht president Ahmadinejad zijn eerder aangekondigde 'goede nieuws': Iran heeft voor het eerst licht verrijkt uranium geproduceerd, met een concentratie van 3,5% (voor atoomwapens is 93% nodig). In een reactie zei de woordvoerder van het Witte Huis, Scott McLellan, dat Iran zich in een verkeerde richting beweegt. Vandaag hier wat artikelen van de afgelopen week over beweging in een andere richting.

Maar eerst wat achtergrond-informatie uit het voorjaarsnummer van Foreign Affairs:

For almost half a century, the world's most powerful nuclear states have been locked in a military stalemate known as mutual assured destruction (MAD).
[..]
Today, for the first time in almost 50 years, the United States stands on the verge of attaining nuclear primacy.
[..]
Is the United States intentionally pursuing nuclear primacy? Or is primacy an unintended byproduct of intra-Pentagon competition for budget share or of programs designed to counter new threats from terrorists and so-called rogue states? Motivations are always hard to pin down, but the weight of the evidence suggests that Washington is, in fact, deliberately seeking nuclear primacy. For one thing, U.S. leaders have always aspired to this goal. And the nature of the changes to the current arsenal and official rhetoric and policies support this conclusion.
[..]
During the Cold War, MAD rendered the debate about the wisdom of nuclear primacy little more than a theoretical exercise. Now that MAD and the awkward equilibrium it maintained are about to be upset, the argument has become deadly serious. Hawks will undoubtedly see the advent of U.S. nuclear primacy as a positive development. For them, MAD was regrettable because it left the United States vulnerable to nuclear attack. With the passing of MAD, they argue, Washington will have what strategists refer to as "escalation dominance" -- the ability to win a war at any level of violence -- and will thus be better positioned to check the ambitions of dangerous states such as China, North Korea, and Iran.

Tot zover, over naar de kranten van verleden week.

5 april — De Las Vegas Sun meldt dat Divine Strake, een test waarbij begin juni 700 ton ammonium-nitraat en olie tot ontploffing gebracht zal worden 100 km van Vegas (de grootste chemische explosie ooit op de Nevada test-site), onderdeel is van een nucleair testprogramma:

Despite the enthusiasm for the weapons research, Congress since 2001 has denied funding for such nuclear programs. [..]
The test "is about fine-tuning tools for fighting nuclear wars, Kristensen said. The nuclear war fighters are trying to calibrate a low-yield nuclear weapon against a relatively shallow target in limestone."
Kristensen said the goal of the test program was to find the weakest nuclear weapon that would still achieve the goal of knocking out hardened, underground structures.

7 april — De Washington Post schrijft dat het Pentagon zich excuseert voor de onrust in Nevada over de aanstaande mushroom cloud:

they said the test was not designed to simulate a low-yield nuclear explosion, even though government budget documents had described it that way.

8 april — Seymour Hersh bericht in The New Yorker over militaire plannen voor een luchtaanval op Iran.

He said that the President believes that he must do "what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do," and "that saving Iran is going to be his legacy."
One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that "a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government."
[..]
The lack of reliable intelligence leaves military planners, given the goal of totally destroying the sites, little choice but to consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons. "Every other option, in the view of the nuclear weaponeers, would leave a gap," the former senior intelligence official said. "'Decisive' is the key word of the Air Force's planning. It's a tough decision. But we made it in Japan."
He went on, "Nuclear planners go through extensive training and learn the technical details of damage and fallout — we're talking about mushroom clouds, radiation, mass casualties, and contamination over years. This is not an underground nuclear test, where all you see is the earth raised a little bit."
[..]
The attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he added, and some officers have talked about resigning. [..] "There are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries," the adviser told me. "This goes to high levels."
[..]
"If you're going to do any bombing to stop the nukes, you might as well improve your lie across the board. Maybe hit some training camps, and clear up a lot of other problems."
The Pentagon adviser said that, in the event of an attack, the Air Force intended to strike many hundreds of targets in Iran but that "ninety-nine per cent of them have nothing to do with proliferation. There are people who believe it's the way to operate"
[..]
If the order were to be given for an attack, the American combat troops now operating in Iran would be in position to mark the critical targets with laser beams, to insure bombing accuracy and to minimize civilian casualties. [..] The troops "are studying the terrain, and giving away walking-around money to ethnic tribes, and recruiting scouts from local tribes and shepherds"

9 april — In de Sunday Times verheugt Richard Perle zich al op de aanval:

"You can see the shape of the speech the president will give," said Richard Perle, a leading American neo-conservative. "He will cite the Iranians' past pattern of deception, their support for terrorism and the unacceptable menace the nation would present if it had nuclear weapons.
"The attack would be over before anybody knew what had happened. The only question would be what the Iranians might do in retaliation."

9 april — De Washington Post bevestigt een aantal punten van Hersh' verhaal.

The U.S. government has taken some preliminary steps that go beyond planning. The Washington Post has reported that the military has been secretly flying surveillance drones over Iran since 2004 using radar, video, still photography and air filters to detect traces of nuclear activity not accessible to satellites. [..] The British government has launched its own planning for a potential U.S. strike [..] Israel is preparing, as well.

9 aprilThe Australian rapporteert een bericht uit de Iraanse media:

Iran 'shoots down unmanned plane'

10 aprilWashington Monthly presenteert de opvolger van de WHIG: ISOG.

Remember the White House Iraq Group? And the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans? [..] last month the administration formed something called the Iran-Syria Operations Group (ISOG) - a group headed by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Liz Cheney [dochter van, red.]

11 april — De Israëlische krant Yedioth Ahronoth meldt dat bombardementen op Iran verwacht worden in 2007 en citeert nog maar eens Israel's nationale veiligheidsadviseur Giora Eiland:

"There will be a situation where all disputes in the Middle East will be managed in the shadow of a nuclear Iranian umbrella."

11 april — William Arkin schrijft in z'n rubriek Early Warning over Bush' kwalificatie van het stuk van Hersh ('just wild speculation'). Nucleaire war games tegen Iran (en saillant genoeg ook tegen shi'ietische elementen in Irak) zijn al sinds '91 realiteit.

Fearing that Iran might introduce a nuclear device into the United States by covert means, the United States retaliates with a "limited" nuclear strike intended to destroy Iran's remaining weapons of mass destruction so far as these weapons can be targeted.
[..]
In December 1991, flush with victory against the Iraqi army after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, the RAND Corporation began a "Future of Warfare" seminar war game series positing Iran as the main future enemy.
The end of the Cold War and the seeming vanquishing of the Iraqi threat had left the Pentagon in a quandary. "I'm running out of enemies," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Colin Powell said.

11 april — De Las Vegas Sun gaat in op een nieuwe reactie van het Pentagon over de test in Nevada.

Spokesmen for the Defense Department's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which is planning the 700-ton, June 2 blast at the Test Site, do not deny that the test was described last year as a planning tool for development of a tactical nuclear weapon.
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency says the test is not now, however, directly related to Iran or to a nuclear program. [..]
"It is way too big of a blast for us to generate conventionally" [..] "I have no problem with them doing this test, but my B.S. detector has gone off the scale," Pike said. "It's bizarre. It insults my intelligence." [..] "They've already spent all the money, OK? And everybody loves a good explosion, right? I think Fox (News) and CNN and everyone will have a good time covering it. But just tell us that, rather than making up all of this foolishness."

11 april — Bij BBC Newsnight mocht Richard Perle (I no longer talk to the BBC) commentaar geven op het verrijkte Iraanse uranium. En passant zei hij dat het wildly irresponsible was van de pers, om over aanvalscenarios te praten. Perle heeft het immers niet zo op Seymour Hersh (zie The Prince of Darkness).


Eerder verschenen stukken op Alt-F4 die aansluiten bij dit onderwerp: Triumph des Glaubens en The art of pre-emptive nuclear war.


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